Thursday, April 30, 2009

We Need a National Nurse NOW!

The WHO raised the swine flu pandemic alert to a 5 (out of6) and changed the name to Influenza A (H1N1) as the poor pigs are getting a bad rap from this one. Although it is now believed that the first case in Mexico may have been a young boy who contracted it from a pig and it mutated to a human to human transmission from there.

There has been a call to all nurses to be alert to the public health crisis looming as the swine flu spreads across the U.S. Wouldn't this be a perfect time to have a National Nurse? And a corps of nurses prepared and ready to move into action where needed?

Yes, I know the ANA is trying to do this and the Red Cross always helps to organize nurses in a any crisis and send volunteers where they are needed, but as we saw with Katrina, this system works, but it could be oh so much better!!!

So why is there so much opposition to the idea of a National Nurse? Perhaps it's just the old professional jealousy thing....NIH...Not Invented Here... that keeps the opposition buoyant.

I think we may see in the next few days and weeks that there is a real need for a strong, united and organized front of nurses to help meet the needs of the public and to educate people in how to care for themselves as well as contain and prevent the spread of this flu pandemic.

We know that even though the government says there are plenty of antivirals to go around, in reality, pharmacies are NOT stocked and prepared to deliver them. They need to be taken early on in the course of the illness to be effective so this isn't a good thing!

The CDC and WHO are issuing information on Twitter in 140 characters or less. This is terrific, but is it adequate to educate the public in how to prevent transmission and how to safely care for themselves and their loved ones if they become ill?

As the events unfold and we move into National Nurses Week, I urge you to keep in mind how much better we could proceed if we had an Office of the National Nurse to lead and organize our efforts. Take action to support the nursing profession by sending a letter to your legislators.